A Gift Many Years in the Making (Summer 2022)

Past Matters Summer 2022; posted on 08/01/2022

The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission Celebrates the Legacy of Lana Hughes Nelson

By Anjali Kaul Zutshi, FTHC Executive Director

This article will appear in the Summer 2022 issue of The Medallion, the Texas Historical Commission’s official quarterly magazine containing news and advice about preservation projects, Texas’ historic sites, and heritage tourism opportunities. Subscribe for free here.

“One day, Honi Hame’agel was walking along the road when he saw an old man planting a carob tree. Honi said to him: This tree, after how many years will it bear fruit? The man said to him: It will not produce fruit until 70 years have passed. Honi said to him: Is it obvious to you that you will live 70 years? So how do you expect to benefit from this tree? He said to him: I found a fruitful world because others had planted it. Just as my ancestors planted for me, I, too, am planting for my descendants.”
Parable from the Talmud (Ta’anit 23a)

The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission’s mission is to partner with the Texas Historical Commission to preserve and protect the cultural heritage of Texas, securing private philanthropic resources to ensure a lasting legacy for future generations. In building these resources, the FTHC is privileged to work with donors who value, and help preserve, Texas history as well as the unique, varied, and complex stories of the real places and real people that the THC preserves for our current and future generations. While many donors support ongoing programs and projects, there are those who believe in building sustainability and leaving a legacy of preservation for the future.

In January 2022, following 18 months of working with representatives of the Neely Hughes Trust, the FTHC received an incredibly generous endowment gift of $525,000 from the Trust. The Trust was set up following the passing of Ms. Lana Hughes Nelson in April 2012. It was Lana’s wish to support the preservation, in perpetuity, of cemeteries in and around Henderson County. To that end, and to secure the lasting legacy of Lana Hughes Nelson, the gift from the Neely Hughes Trust is directed toward the creation of the Lana Hughes Nelson Endowment Fund for Cemetery Preservation, and the establishment of the Lana Hughes Nelson Cemetery Preservation Education Program Fund. Lana was a native of Athens, Texas, and grew up attending Athens High School and Henderson County Junior College. She subsequently graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and served a long tenure with Amoco Oil Company, first in New Orleans and then later in Houston. However, every now and then, her roots in Henderson County brought her back to Athens, where she was finally laid to rest at the Davis Cemetery.

The FTHC is very grateful for the opportunity, through the Lana Hughes Nelson Endowment Fund for Cemetery Preservation, to provide ongoing maintenance and restoration support for qualifying cemeteries in Henderson County. Lana loved learning new things, and it is only fitting that a portion of this gift will help set up the Cemetery Preservation Education Program Fund. This fund will allow the THC’s Cemetery Preservation Program staff to offer trainings and workshops to cemetery preservation organizations and volunteer groups, building capacity within local communities to preserve the over 50,000 cemeteries that currently exist across the state.

Lana’s legacy, through the Endowment and the Education Program Fund, will endure forever. The FTHC is grateful to have played a part in ensuring that this gift, made by the Neely Hughes Trust, will positively impact cemetery preservation efforts not just in Henderson County, but across the state.

To learn more about legacy preservation, click here.

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